Gas monthly payment we can't afford!

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wotnext
wotnext Posts: 345 Forumite
I started paying for my gas using a card and paying monthly over the post office counter - £66 - a: because there was a small amount of arrears; and b: I wanted to avoid horrible big bills. However, the other day I received a letter from British Gas saying I needed to up my payment and they've calculated my new monthly payment as £172!! I cannot possibly pay that every month, and I cannot believe it because they've also just confirmed they've put us on a cheaper tarrif because we claim housing benefit.

Before I ring them, can anyone offer any advice as to what I can say or do?

(Unfortunately I cannot switch suppliers as we rent the property).

Comments

  • sandieb
    sandieb Posts: 728 Forumite
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    What do they base this payment on? Do you know what your current gas meter shows - do they have an estimate or a real reading?

    I'd phone them and check it out.
  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
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    Do you know why such a big jump? It can't be just price rises.

    How many Kwh are you using?
  • wotnext
    wotnext Posts: 345 Forumite
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    Magentasue wrote: »
    Do you know why such a big jump? It can't be just price rises.

    How many Kwh are you using?

    I don't know. :o How do I find that out?

    The only gas we use is via the cooker during the summer. It's only during the winter we start to use the GCH and at the moment we are only using it ocassionally in the evenings and first thing in the morning. How can we therefore be using £172 worth of gas at the moment or how can we have notched up that during the last 3 months considering we've only used a cooker? It just seems ridiculous.
  • Magentasue
    Magentasue Posts: 4,229 Forumite
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    We're a family of six with gas CH/hot water and cooker. We pay about £70 a month although I'm hoping to cut that slightly as we're in a smaller house now.

    Anyway, look at your meter and see if it says cubic feet or cubic meters. Then work out how many you're using.

    Have never had a card but I assume you have a bill or statement sent every quarter? That should have the last meter reading on it. You then subtract that from the present reading. You can then work out how much you're using a day/week/month on average. You really need to know your annual usage to work out monthly costs because, as you point out, you use more in winter when the heating goes on.

    Do you have a boiler with a tank for hot water or a combi boiler?

    Edit: You meter reads in cubic feet or meters. Your bill is in kwh. If you have cubic feet, multiply by 33 to get approx kwh. If it's metric, multiply by 11.
  • loobylou2
    loobylou2 Posts: 816 Forumite
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    I work for BG and if you call us with an up to date meter read we'll be more than happy to reassess your account and see what we can do to help. Customer Service Advisors like myself can reduce payment plan payments by up to 50% if we feel that the circumstances of the customer justify such a reduction and that you won't be left with a huge debt on your account at the end of the payment plan. So please don't worry and give us a call. Even if we cannot help with your payments we may be able to suggest other things which could help or other ways of paying off the debt which you may not have considered. We don't bite ( honest!!!) and are here to help despite things you may have heard about us in the media so please give us a call.
    loobylou2.Proud to be dealing with my debts and aiming to sort out the mess in 2013!!!!:eek:
  • redcar_2
    redcar_2 Posts: 631 Forumite
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    British gas were always putting my DD for electricity up by huge jumps even when the readings showed that they had around £100 more than the acurate readings showed I used. I used to have no luck with the customer service people - even when they agreed the DD didn't need to be increased they couldn't seem to over-ride the 'system' and always had to cancel the DD to re-set the account get the surplus refunded and set up DD again. After a couple of years of this I lost patience and changed away - I've not found any other company to be like them in this regard.

    Have you cleared your arrears now? If you are going to be where you are for a while it might be worth trying to shop around for a new supplier? If you are with BG for gas it is very unlikely they are the cheapest plus you can get some money to change.
  • WhistleBlower
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    Not my company but i can offer a little advice.

    First, check on your most recent bill for estimated readings, if the reads are firm then call and request either a manual calculation of your usage/costs and negotiate for a better payment plan.

    If the reads are estimated give them a firm reading and ask for a re-calculation. Be aware though if they have under-estimated then you may end up playing catch up. See if you can negotiate a longer repayment plan. It's possible this is what has already happened and this is why your payments have increased so suddenly, again, attempt to negotiate for a longer plan.

    They might say no but it's worth trying, and there's bound ot be something they can work out for you, especially if they just put you on their social tarriff.
  • ic
    ic Posts: 3,293 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary Mortgage-free Glee!
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    Is the house fully insulated? As you're on benefits you'll may well qualify to have the work done for free - British Gas will be able to advise on this.

    Check what you're paying via USwitch and energysavinghelpline - BG are rarely the cheapest. Equigas don't charge extra for paying on card / prepayment / etc - most other suppliers only give their discounts to direct debit customers. If you're not in arrears with BG you'll be able to switch supplier.
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